Plum Village Retreats

The Five Aggregates Are Empty


December 15, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the seventh talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Insight from touching the earth. Truth is a kind of insight and the object of our religion is truth, goodness, and beauty. We pay respect to Buddha, to God, to Allah in order to gain this insight. When we bow down, we don’t need to personalize the statue but rather something concrete. Understanding. Compassion. Wisdom. Everyone can keep their own religion; touching the earth is not something inanimate. Mother Earth is a great Boddhisatva.

With medicine and health, we can’t just rely on one thing. The same is true in regards to religion. We have to pay attention to our body. Bring out mind back to our body. You have time for your computer, but not time for your body? We are organizing a Health Retreat to restore the well being in your body and your mind (April 2012). If we can breath in, and bring our mind back to our body, then we can stop the alienation created by external forces such as computers, tv, cell phones, etc. Stopping. Calming. Concentration. The breath can be the object of your mind and stop the situation from being dispersed.

About an hour into talk, we resume the Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga’s Yogacarabhumi sutra study with Gatha 17-21, particularly focusing on the verses dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things we think of as ourselves.

17-18. The physical body is like foam. Feelings are like bubbles on the surface of the water. The perceptions are like a magic city. The mental formations are like the stem of a banana tree. The consciousness is like a magic show. That is what the Buddha has taught.

19. Ignorance does not make ignorance ignorant, nor does it make others ignorant. Another does not make ignorance ignorant. Nevertheless ignorance is not non-existent.

20. Ignorance is born from inappropriate attention. Inappropriate attention arises in the ignorant person.

21. Merit, lack of merit and immovability; these formations are imagined in a threefold way. All things have three kinds of karma and these karma’s are not compatible with each other.

Plum Village Retreats

Psyche and Soma Are Not Separate


December 8, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fifth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

The happiness of the dharma. When listening to a dharma talk, walking, eating, cleaning the toilet, or sitting meditation, this is dharma happiness. When you put the practice into your daily activities, then you can have happiness. We just need to look a little deeper with concentration. Today we can learn about eating mindfully. A piece of bread contains the body of the cosmos. We also learn how to sit correctly.

At 38-minutes we switch to sutra study. The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra. He shares in particular about the 12 Links of Interdependent Origination as a new theory of knowledge, or epistemology. When we look at them deeply we see there is no subjective observer; we are participants in what we observe. Without this insight we fall into the wrong perception that body and mind are separate.

English/French Plum Village Retreats

Pebble Meditation: Children’s Talk


July 16, 2011. 56-minute dharma talk for the children. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Four positions of the body. We should hold our body in order to have peace. How can we sit on a lotus flower. When we have peace, we can have freedom and happiness.

Happiness is also possible using mantras. The first is “My dear, I am here for you.” To be there is a practice. We can do this by bringing our mind and body together. The second is “I know you are there and I’m very happy.” It’s just as easy to apply as the first. The person you love is there. The first was to recognize our own presence and the second is to recognize the other.

The quality of our presence is also important. One practice we can use to help with quality is Pebble Meditation. Using a sack of four pebbles to practice a self-guided meditation on being fresh as a flower, solid as a mountain, reflective like water, and free as space. Specific instruction is given for each step.

In the concluding 15-minutes, we are led through the mindful movements.

The talk was given in French and English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Plum Village

Body and Mind Are One


March 10, 2011. 96-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

The body and the mind. Two sides of the same thing. Both the mind and body are aspects of our being. Both belong to the same thing. One supports the other. So, to take care of your mind is to take care of your body (and vice-versa).

We can contemplate our body, and it begins with mindfulness. Sutra on Mindful Breathing has sixteen exercises. The fourth exercise is about resting. This is something we have forgotten how to do and it is very important. Relax. Tension and pain exist both in body and mind. We only hear of the first four.

How do we eliminate toxins in our body and mind? Toxins like hatred, anger, greed. We can learn with our practice. Deep breathing is one method. There are four kinds of nutriments – these are explained. Thay focuses on what we consume and how it impacts us, our well being.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.